SHERIFF'S CORNER: 'I didn't know it was actually a law'

Sheriff Rich Martin

Sheriff Rich Martin

Courtesy of Rich Martin, Lake County Sheriff's Office

It seems like there is always a law that we never knew about or something we thought we did as a common courtesy but was actually something we were legally required to do.

After doing these "Sheriff's Corner" articles for several years, it can sometimes be difficult to come up with a topic. The reason to have these articles is to explain the law and sometimes create a little humor relating to police operations in this modern day and age. The better we communicate, between law enforcement and the community, the better we can effectively do our job while creating trust and faith in your local law enforcement. We are all in this together.

Law Enforcement should be the people you come to when you need help or assistance, not to be feared but rather erase the bad stigma that is bestowed to law enforcement that we see on the news and social media.

In this edition of the "Sheriff's Corner," I cover some laws that you may have thought was a courtesy but are actually the law.


Out of courtesy and respect, most driver's will move out of the way of a funeral procession. However, did you know that this is actually the law to do so? Michigan law gives funeral processions the right-of-way at intersections, but it does not specify conduct at traffic signals. Funeral processions have the right-of-way over all other vehicles, except emergency vehicles, when going to a cemetery.

MCL 257.654 states:

"(1) A motor vehicle forming part of a funeral procession, when going to a place of burial, shall have the right of way over all other vehicles except fire apparatus, ambulances, and police patrol vehicles at a street or highway intersection within this state if the vehicle in the funeral procession displays a flag which shall be fluorescent orange in color, and upon which shall be printed, stamped, or stained a black cross, the star of David, or the crescent and star. The lead vehicle and the last vehicle in the funeral procession may carry an additional flag. The flags shall not contain a name embossed or printed on the flag, except the word 'funeral.'

"(2) A person passing through a funeral procession of motor vehicles, designated pursuant to subsection (1), with a vehicle of any kind, is responsible for a civil infraction."


There is a state requirement to have your dog licensed. Also, if you know that your female dog is in heat it is illegal for you to let her run free from your supervision.

MCL 287.262(2) states:

"It shall be unlawful for any person to own any dog 6 months old or over, unless the dog is licensed as hereinafter provided, or to own any dog 6 months old or over that does not at all times wear a collar with a tag approved by the director of agriculture, attached as hereinafter provided, except when engaged in lawful hunting accompanied by its owner or custodian; or for any owner of any female dog to permit the female dog to go beyond the premises of such owner when she is in heat, unless the female dog is held properly in leash; or for any person except the owner or authorized agent, to remove any license tag from a dog; or for any owner to allow any dog, except working dogs such as leader dogs, guard dogs, farm dogs, hunting dogs, and other such dogs, when accompanied by their owner or his authorized agent, while actively engaged in activities for which such dogs are trained, to stray unless held properly in leash."


There are state and federal laws that pertain to this thru American National Standards Institute (ANSI), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). All workers within the right-of-way, or in the roadway of a federal-aid highway who are exposed either to traffic, or to construction equipment within the work area shall wear high-visibility safety apparel.

High-visibility safety apparel is personal protective safety clothing that is intended to make the wearer more visible during both daytime and nighttime usage, and that meets the Performance Class 2 or 3 requirements of ANSI.

Class 2 ANSI Safety Vest: A class 2 vest is used for elevated risk levels. Workers who are on roadways with traffic up to 50 mph should be wearing these. They are larger in size than class 1 vests because of the higher visibility and reflective tape requirements.  Additionally, they must have a minimum of 775 inches of background material and 201 square inches of reflective striping.

Class 3 ANSI Safety Vest: Class 3 jackets and vests are reserved for the most dangerous work environments. Industries where visibility is of the highest priority include roadways where traffic goes over 50 mph, emergency workers, and personnel who work in inclement weather or confined spaces and need to be seen.

Here are some examples, but are not limited to:

  • Highway construction, road workers and maintenance crews
  • Inspectors, engineering personnel, survey and utility crews
  • First responders
  • Garbage and refuse picker uppers
  • Law enforcement when directing traffic

OSHA construction standard Subpart G, 29 CFR 1926.201, titled Signaling, states:

"For daytime work, the flagger's vest, shirt, or jacket shall be orange, yellow, strong yellow green or fluorescent versions of these colors. For nighttime work, similar outside garments shall be retro reflective. The retro reflective material shall be orange, yellow, white, silver, strong yellow-green, or a fluorescent version of one of these colors and shall be visible at a minimum distance of 1,000 feet."


In 2018, Michigan became the first midwestern state to allow both medical and adult-use marijuana use. The Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act was passed by Michigan voters in November 2018 and allows anyone age 21 or older to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and to grow as many as 12 plants at home.

What is not allowed:

  • Public consumption is not permitted.
  • Driving under the influence of marijuana is not permitted.
  • Individuals cannot cross state lines with marijuana.

You can use in your own home or in the residence of family and friends, as long as you have permission from the occupant, landlord, and property owner.

MCL 333.27954(4) states:

"This act does not authorize: (e) consuming marihuana in a public place or smoking marihuana where prohibited by the person who owns, occupies, or manages the property, except for purposes of this subdivision a public place does not include an area designated for consumption within a municipality that has authorized consumption in designated areas that are not accessible to persons under 21 years of age..."


I have seen many privately owned vehicles incorporating flashing white (clear) lights in conjunction with amber flashing lights. As this may create a more visible optic, the usage of flashing white lights are for emergency vehicles only. In all actually, is this something that you would be cited for? Probably not, but it is the law.

MCL 257.698 states:

"(5) The use or possession of flashing, oscillating, or rotating lights of any color is prohibited except as otherwise provided by law or under the following circumstances:...

"(c) An authorized emergency vehicle may be equipped with flashing, rotating, or oscillating red lights for use when responding to an emergency call if when in use the flashing, rotating, or oscillating red lights are clearly visible in a 360-degree arc from a distance of 500 feet....

"(h) An authorized emergency vehicle may display flashing, rotating, or oscillating white lights in conjunction with an authorized emergency light as prescribed in this section."


State law requires that a person shall not remove snow onto the roadway, or its shoulder. In doing so, it can impact drivers and restrict their vision. 

MCL 257.677a states:

"(2) A person shall not remove, or cause to be removed, snow, ice, or slush onto or across a roadway or the shoulder of the roadway in a manner which obstructs the safety vision of the driver of a motor vehicle other than off-road vehicles.

"(3) A person shall not deposit, or cause to be deposited, snow, ice, or slush onto or across a roadway or the shoulder of the roadway in a manner which obstructs the safety vision of the driver of a motor vehicle.

"(4) A person shall not deposit, or cause to be deposited, snow, ice or slush on any roadway or highway.

"(5) A person who violates this section is responsible for a civil infraction and shall be ordered to pay a civil fine of not more than $100.00."


Even if you are issued a legal driver’s license, it is illegal to operate a vehicle without having the physical license on your person. This means you must have in on you at all times when driving your vehicle.

MCL 257.311 states:

“The licensee shall have his or her operator’s or chauffeur’s license… in his or her immediate possession at all times when operating a motor vehicle, and shall display the same upon demand of any police officer, who shall identify himself or herself as such. A person who violates this statute is guilty of a misdemeanor conviction punishable by a fine up to $100.00 or up to 90 days in jail, or both." 


Michigan’s Food Law, Act 92, P.A. 2000 requires a food service license when food or beverage is served or prepared for carry out, immediate consumption or consumption on the premises. Examples of events that will require a temporary food service license include: food booths or stands at festivals, craft shows, rallies, or sporting events; and fund raisers for persons, organizations or political offices. A food service license is required even if the organization is nonprofit and the food is provided free of charge.

The following establishments are exempt from food service licensure in Michigan

  • A hotel, motel, or bed and breakfast that serves continental breakfasts only. 
  • A bed and breakfast that has 10 or less sleeping rooms for rent.
  • A child care organization, unless the establishment is operating in a way that is considered by the director to be food service.
  • Cottage food operation.
  • A person offering whole, uncut fresh fruits and vegetables directly to consumers.
  • A temporary food establishment with no food preparation using only single-service articles and serving only pre-packaged, non-potentially hazardous food or beverage.
  • Ice cream trucks that offer only prepackaged, single-serving frozen desserts.
  • Feeding operations in response to a disaster.
  • Nonprofit organizations serving home prepared food in conjunction with a fundraiser.
  • Churches serving food to a closed group within the church (e.g., deacons, church choir, or a specific committee). If you can bring a friend, it’s not exempt.


If you plan to sell more than five vehicles in a 12-month period in Michigan, you will need to have a Michigan Dealer License. You are legally allowed to sell less than five vehicles a year if those vehicles are titled in your name and used primarily for personal, family, or household use.

MCL 257.248 states:

"(5) A person shall not carry on or conduct the business of buying, selling, brokering, leasing, negotiating a lease, or dealing in 5 or more vehicles of a type required to be titled under this act in a 12-month period unless the person obtains a dealer license from the secretary of state authorizing the carrying on or conducting of that business. A person shall not carry on or conduct the business of buying, selling, brokering, leasing, negotiating a lease, or dealing in 5 or more distressed, late model vehicles or salvageable parts to 5 or more of those vehicles in a 12-month period unless the person obtains a used or secondhand vehicle parts dealer, an automotive recycler, or a salvage pool license from the secretary of state or is an insurance company admitted to conduct business in this state. A person shall not carry on or conduct the business of buying 5 or more vehicles in a 12-month period to process into scrap metal or store or display 5 or more vehicles in a 12-month period as an agent or escrow agent of an insurance company unless the person obtains a dealer license from the secretary of state."

— This information is provided to you for clarification on specific laws, and not legal advice. This is not to be construed as a personal opinion, agreement or disagreement of any specific law. Topics covered are for educational and informational purposes only. As needed, excerpts from other articles are used for reference and/or content. If you have any questions on any specific topic, you may always email me your questions to